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Supporting student wellbeing in the classroom

Students face ever-increasing pressures in their lives, and a consequence of that is the expectation that schools play a role in children’s wellbeing. This is something we think a lot about in our design at Furnware, and we’d like to share some of these findings with you.

What exactly is wellbeing?

It's helpful to look at academic descriptions that help with improved teaching and learning. We’ve done lots of research and one interesting description we came across was from Cambridge Assessment International Education (2011), where wellbeing was compared to happiness. Unlike happiness, which is a fleeting emotion, wellbeing is more enduring. Their exact definition of wellbeing was a “state of overall mental and physical health, strength, resilience, and fitness to function”.

Wellbeing influences performance and engagement.

Student wellbeing has a big impact on academic performance, engagement, attendance, and quality of relationships. Several influences impact wellbeing such as stress, burnout, depression, and other mental health conditions, as well as physical disabilities. It helps to identify what your students’ pain points are as well as their capacity for attention and self-regulation. Staying aware, and being conscious, of these things can help you support your students.  

What can we do?

We’ve always worked with educators, psychologists, and specialists to better understand the practical steps that foster student wellbeing in the classroom. These are some of the key learnings we’ve found that really make a difference with wellbeing and happy learning, as well as some Furnware furniture recommendations to see how we bring it to life.  
Ambience and Lighting: Natural light, colours, and nature elements (such as plants) can create a calming atmosphere that contributes to overall wellbeing. Colours have been proven to affect mood, behaviour, and learning, remaining a great way to stimulate certain behaviours within areas of the classroom. To find out more about colours, read our Colour Theory article.  
Comfortable and Ergonomic Furniture: Chairs and desks should be sized correctly and designed to support proper posture and reduce discomfort. To check your furniture is sized correctly, see our Furniture Size Guide. Furnware’s Bodyfurn® Sled Chair moves dynamically with students and supports a more settled classroom. When teamed with the correctly sized desk or table, the Bodyfurn® Sled Chair really can achieve wonders. 
Flexible Options: A good place to start is introducing different furniture heights. Consider a classroom with Furnware Bodyfurn® Lab stools and standing height tables, kneeling tables and cookie pads, bean bags or soft seating from our Base Collection. Different learning layouts within the classroom can help too, including a space for students to seek refuge, a collaborative space, a discussion zone, and a teacher-led area.
Movement-friendly Designs: Look for furniture that encourages easy movement, like swivel chairs or wobble stools, that can help students stay engaged and comfortable. Our partner Mindfull offers a Wobble Seat or a Rocking Perch that are great options for active learners. Be more creative with fabric too – could a patterned fabric be more engaging for some students?
Accessibility and Inclusivity: Your classroom should be accessible to all students, including those with physical disabilities. Consider furniture and arrangements that accommodate different mobility needs, making everyone feel included and valued. Some students may have sensory sensitivities, so it's important to create an environment that’s not overwhelming. Soft textures, adjustable lighting, and sensory-friendly spaces can really help.
Students face enough challenges outside of the classroom. When they feel physically and emotionally comfortable in their learning space, they’re better prepared to learn and grow. We’re committed to helping students be the best they can, through ergonomic, flexible, and engaging furniture. By working together with schools, we can help the next generation thrive in the most inspiring learning spaces imaginable. 

Sources, Resources, and Further Reading

Cambridge Assessment International Education. (2011). Developing the Cambridge learner attributes.
Govorova, E., Benítez, I., & Muñiz, J. (2020). How schools affect student well-being: A cross-cultural approach in 35 OECD countries. Frontiers in psychology11, 431.
Ivory, D. M. (2011). The impact of dynamic furnture on classroom performance: A pilot study [Master’s thesis, University of Puget Sound]. Collins Library Sound Ideas.
Kariippanon, K., E., Cliff, D. P., Lancaster, S. L., Okely, A. D, & Parrish, A. (2017). Perceived interplay between flexible learning spaces and teaching, learning and student wellbeing. Learning Environments Research, 21, 301-320.
Martin, A. J., & Marsh, H. W. (2008). Academic buoyancy: Towards an understanding of students' everyday academic resilience. Journal of School Psychology46(1), 53-83.
Miller, S., Connolly, P., & Maguire, L. K. (2013). Wellbeing, academic buoyancy, and educational achievement in primary school students. International Journal of Educational Research62, 239-248.
OECD (2017), PISA 2015 Results (Volume III): Students' Well-Being, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris.
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